Tuesday, May 31, 2011

College Hockey Video of the Week (5/30/11): Former College Players making a difference in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Stanley Cup playoffs has reached the final round as the Vancouver Canucks take on the Boston Bruins. Some of the most important players on each of these teams are former college stars like Kevin Bieksa (Vancouver/Bowling Green), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver/Ohio State), and Tim Thomas (Boston/Vermont).

Here are some videos about each of these players (and Martin St. Louis) on their college careers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Union names Tapp and Dumais as assistant coaches

Union has announced that Jason Tapp and Joe Dumais will be a part of Rick Bennett’s coaching staff next season. These men fill the voids after Bennett was promoted to head coach and Ben Barr followed Nate Leaman to Providence.

Tapp has been a part of the Union coaching staff for the past two seasons as a volunteer goalie coach. He has overseen the development of Keith Kinkaid during this time. He played his college hockey at Boston University.

Dumais previously was an assistant coach at UConn (Atlantic Hockey) for three seasons. He played college hockey at Quinnipiac from 2002-2006. In his senior season Dumais was named team captain and the Bobcats played their first season in the ECAC. From what is sounds like, Dumais was a “grinding” forward when he played.

It’s hard to judge how good these signings are. Behind the scenes stuff is hard to judge and both of these guys don’t have much of a track record. One good thing is that these guys are young, which is an important characteristic for an assistant coach.

With Tapp, it will be beneficial that the team is familiar with him. He will have the very important job of developing Troy Grosenick, Julien LaPlante, and eventually Colin Stevens into goaltenders that can replace Keith Kinkaid. To learn more about Tapp, check out the interview I did with him over the summer (click here).

The one thing I like about Dumais is that he played in the ECAC, so he knows what it’s like to be an ECAC student-athlete. His experience could be very beneficial in recruiting. I’ll admit that I’m a little surprised that Union hired a guy from UConn, which is a pretty mediocre Atlantic Hockey program at best. I guess I was hoping they’d get a guy from a more proven program than UConn. Maybe there weren’t too many of these guys available. But, you never know what will happen. For all we know Dumais will become a great choice.

Either way, the entire coaching staff has a lot to prove and tons of pressure on them. They will be counted upon to continue Union’s success and bring them to the next level.

For more info go to:
Union Athletics.com
Ken Schott’s Blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

College Hockey Video of the Week (5/23/11): College Hockey - Time Of Your Life

Sorry for the late post. This is a video from College Hockey Inc. interviewing NHL players that played college hockey.

And as an apology for posting a day late, here is a bone crushing hit (and glass shattering hit) from a DIII game between Curry and Hobart.

Monday, May 16, 2011

College Hockey Video of the Week (5/16/11): Denver's David Makowski scores 195 foot goal

This took place this past February in a game between Denver and Michigan Tech.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Out Of The Woods: Parts 9 and 10

Here are the last two segments of "Out Of The Woods." I hope you all enjoyed watching the documentary. I really enjoyed it! The 1993 Maine team is arguably the best college hockey team ever and Paul Kariya might be the best college hockey player of all-time. It's really interesting to get an inside look of this team.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Out Of The Woods: Parts 5 and 6

Here are Parts 5 and 6 of the "Out Of The Woods" documentary.

I hope you're all enjoying this!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Out Of The Woods: Parts 3 and 4

Here is the third and fourth segments of the "Out Of The Woods" documentary about the 1993 U of Maine national championship team.

Parts 5 and 6 will be posted tomorrow.


Monday, May 9, 2011

College Hockey Video of the Week (5/9/11): Out Of The Woods

Ok, I'm going to try something different with the CH Video of the Week since news is very slow. Instead of showing one video, I will be showing a whole documentary. The documentary is called "Out Of The Woods," which is about Maine's 1993 championship season. This Maine team is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) college hockey teams of all time. With the help of guys like Paul Kariya, Jim Montgomery, Garth Snow, Mike Dunham, and the Ferraro brothers the Black Bears lost only one game that season and went on to win the national championship in dramatic fashion.

Luckily for us, YouTube has this documentary and has is split up into 10 parts. So, for the next five days I will be posting two parts.

Please let me know if you like or dislike this idea. I'm just trying something new.

Here are parts 1 and 2 of the documentary. Enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Believe In Rick Bennett and Troy Grosenick!

Some people are worried about what's going to happen to the Dutchmen without Coach Leaman and Keith Kinkaid. Union fans should not be worried because Rick Bennett will be a great coach and Troy Grosenick will provide solid goaltending. The biggest thing is believing in them. If the fans believe in them then they will believe in themselves.

I believe in these guys! Happy Springfest!

Rick Bennett fights for the NY Rangers (blue jersey):

Troy Grosenick celebrates with Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (#27):

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jason Klump Reports From The Leaman Press Conference in Providence

The following is a report from Jason Klump, who attended the Nate Leaman press conference at Providence on Tuesday. He talks about the differences and similarities between Union and Providence, along with other topics.

This post contains the opinions of Jason Klump only. I just edited it. You can follow Klump on Twitter at @Jason_Klump.

Thank you Jason for taking the time to attend the press conference and writing a very insightful column for UHB.

There was never much confusion as to why Providence College wanted Nate Leaman and why he in turn saw the job opening there as a good fit for himself.

Although the financial terms of his deals both at Union College and PC were undisclosed, it is safe to say Leaman is receiving a pay increase as he relocates to Rhode Island.  In addition, he is going to a school that is a full Division I institution and will be able to offer scholarships to recruits for the first time in his career as a head coach.  Yet the local press was quick to be pessimistic about the recruiting potential given that he would be competing against the titans of eastern college hockey.

"At Union, we didn't have an overly impressive sell and we ended up having seven players with over 30 points last year," Leaman shot back.

Leaman is also going somewhere that is committed, it seems, to putting the money into rink renovations needed to help the program grow.  Many have been calling for Union to upgrade from tiny, outdated Messa Rink since Leaman started to lead them to success, but there has never been any interest shown by the school in doing so.  This is something that was clearly important to the coach.

"In two years, (PC's Schneider Arena) will be a completely different rink," Leaman noted.  "The school is committed to doing a very large renovation to the rink.  That money has already been approved.  It's something I spoke with (President) Father Brian Shanly about before taking the job and it's something I'm very excited about because I believe Schneider is going to be one of the finest arenas in the East within two years."

And why did PC want him?  Quite simply, he did at Union exactly what must be done at PC.  He has a proven his ability to take a program at the bottom of D1 hockey all the way to the top echelon.  And Union and PC, but for location, religious affiliation, and the presence of other D1 sports, are very similar institutions.  They are both small liberal arts colleges which put academics first.

"I very much wanted to go to a school where the kids care about education and can earn a very good degree," Leaman said.  "And that the education makes young men better.  Coming from the Division III background myself and then coaching at Harvard and Union, I deeply believe in guys getting a good education."

To be fair, Union (#41 on USNews' list of national liberal arts colleges) is about half the size and a little more competitive on the admissions end than is PC (#2 among regional universities in the North, though it is technically also a college), but the point is that Leaman is experienced in recruiting top players from all over North America to the type of school that PC is.  And now, with the aforementioned scholarships and the chance to play in Hockey East against the nation's top competition, he has even more to work with.  Leaman was quick to play down the Hockey East superiority angle however.

"That [PC is in Hockey East, where he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Shawn Walsh at Maine] didn't factor in giantly to be honest with you," he said.  "What factored in was the type of education that PC offers."

"Absolutely," Leaman said, smiling, when that question was followed up by one asking if he planned to re-establish PC's former non-conference rivalries with ECAC schools.  Outside of the annual Mayor's Cup game with Brown, the Friars have only played two other games against their former conference in the last two seasons.

"Seth [Appert] has reached out to play and obviously Rick [Bennett] and I want to play one another.  But I've also talked to Joe Marsh about playing a little bit.  And hey, look, there's good hockey teams in that league and they're going to make us a better team, so obviously I'd love to play them."

Leaman addressed the similarities when asked to compare the amount of work needed to be done at PC, who he stated had given him an initial six-year deal, to what had to be done at Union, where he spent eight seasons.

"I think there's some work to be done there with getting the right players," he said regarding the length of the deal.  "I think it's similar [to the amount of work there was to be done at Union].  The program hasn't made the playoffs in three years.  They've only won three games total after January 15 the past three years.  That's not great.  But I really feel that with the resources and the commitment of the school, that we can build things quicker than we did at Union."

It it true that the resources and commitment of PC are seemingly a step up from Union, but you have to consider the same of the new competition he is facing in Hockey East.  So, that kind of balances out.  I think Leaman was being modest.  The real reason it should happen faster for the Friars than it did for the Dutchmen is that Leaman is now a proven commodity whereas he was an unknown who, as PC Athletic Director Bob Driscoll noted, "took a job no one else wanted" when he took his post at Union.  Recruits were certainly wary at first of what they might be getting into with a new head coach at a school with a losing hockey tradition.

Also worth noting is that the youth advantage Leaman had already in the ECAC, where only RPI's Appert was younger, is magnified in Hockey East where he becomes the youngest coach, replacing Lowell's Norm Bazin, who held that distinction less than two days.  Coaches Jack Parker of BU, Jerry York of BC, Dick Umile of UNH, and Don Cahoon of UMass are all older than SLU's Marsh, the elder statesman of the ECAC head coaching ranks.

Not that those old guys can't coach anymore or anything, but worth noting nonetheless.  Nor do I think Leaman will really be competing for recruits against the HEA power schools at first.  He'll get a few blue chips, but most of those guys might not want in right at the beginning of a rebuilding era.  The first couple years I think he will be recruiting more against his former non-Ivy ECAC colleagues and the likes of Merrimack than he will against BU, BC, and UNH.  That will probably come later.  But if Leaman plays the same style at PC that he did at UC, PC may be compared to an ECAC team playing in Hockey East.  And I bet they do better than most would expect.

With all the evident similarities between his former and current jobs, there remain, however, two related aspects where Leaman will see a glaring difference between working at Union and PC.  The first is the strength of the fan base.  Messa Rink, whatever one may say of its shortcomings, has become one of the toughest buildings in the ECAC to play in on the road.  Schneider Arena approaches its capacity of just over 3,000, well, never.  Of course, that comes with success, so if you expect Leaman to succeed in The Divine City as he did in Schenectady, that will come.

The argument is out there that it will be tougher at PC, where the attention on the Big East basketball program dwarfs that shown to any other sport and there is an AHL franchise to compete with.  But the NY Capital District is at its core a basketball first fanbase as well with its own AHL team.  And in my mind, the battle is not between different sports at the same institution or in the same town.  No one can say that the empty seats at Brown hockey games are due to the popularity of the other sports they play.  It is about reigning in the hockey fans that are out there for the getting.  And there are no fewer hockey people in Rhode Island than there are around Albany.

But let's go back to those two related aspects.  That second aspect can go a long way in helping bring the fans along though.  So I asked Leaman about it, starting with some comic relief.

Alice Leaman, the wife of the new coach, burst into laughter of the knee-slapping, teary-eyed variety.

"You got the tape recorder and everything.  You got my wife laughing," said Nate Leaman, himself grinning ear to ear and having little success holding back his chuckles.

"Uh, no comment there," he said at first, more because I think it caught him off-guard than that he had nothing to say.

No, the question was not how much he would miss ECAC officiating.  It was how much he would miss Ken Schott, who began covering the Union beat for the hometown (Schenectady) Daily Gazette when the program turned D1 in 1991.

More than your average beat reporter, Schott is the undisputed dean of the ECAC Hockey media.  The Capital District of course boasts the largest college hockey press corp in the East outside Boston, but Schott takes the cake.  In addition to his print stories on the team, Schott maintains a tirelessly comprehensive blog/vlog ("Parting Schotts") and twitter feed (@slapschotts) on college hockey in Upstate New York's Capital District.  He also hosts a weekly half-hour radio spot.  No one journalist in the East over the last 20+ years has done more for any one program in college hockey than Ken Schott has done for Union College hockey (with apologies to this blog's editor, who is no slouch either).

I would take the position that Union hockey could not have achieved what it did as quick as it did (and I am referring to the eight years of the Leaman era, not the 20 years of the D1 era), given the magnitude and volume of now well-documented obstacles placed in front of the program, without the combined efforts of both Leaman and Schott.

Obviously a head coach has a much greater direct effect on a team's success than does the writer covering them, but when the program is building itself up from the ground level the role of a committed and competent journalist in assisting that process cannot be overstated.  You could make the comparison to the differing roles of a CEO and an advertising agency in building a business, except in this case the advertising is free.  Teams that play in empty buildings simply don't win championships.  And teams with no media coverage don't fill the seats.  Simple as that.

Leaman quickly acknowledged all this when he realized the real question was about the role Schott and his colleagues had indeed played rather than any personal feelings he may have about not getting to see him every week. 

"I think media coverage is important.  It's important that people see what you're building and see the development of the program.  That's where media coverage I think is very good is to see the ins and the outs of the program and the growth over the years."

Now, Mark Divver, who is the assistant sports editor of the Providence Journal, has been covering the search for PC's new head coach quite well and I do not want to take anything away from him or his paper.  But they will not be covering the games or doing anything close to the volume of writing that was done on the program at Union.

Divver was very polite in introducing himself to me and was candid in his response when I asked him if the hire of Leaman combined with Brown's turnaround since the hire of Brendan Whittet would mean more coverage in the ProJo.  "I hope so," he said.

Times are tough in the print media industry, and I would imagine it is particularly difficult in a city located basically in between New York and Boston and having to compete with those city's papers.  At this point, he said the demand simply is not there for them to spend the money to hire a college hockey reporter.  But then again, the demand really wasn't there for Union hockey reporting in 1991, or for that matter when Leaman took the job in 2003.  At Union, he just had to worry about the team itself.  Now, he has to bring in the press and the fans as well.

Building the popularity of college hockey back up in Providence and the state of Rhode Island is something I know was important to both Whittet and Tim Army, the coach Leaman replaces, from conversations with each after last season's Mayor's Cup, which drew only 1,400 fans to Brown's Meehan Auditorium after the same number had come out for the event at Schneider the year before.  Leaman appears ready to step in as an active promoter of the sport in the community.

"Well, we didn't speak about that, but we did speak about scheduling the Mayor's Cup game," he said of an initial conversation with Whittet.  "I have spoken with Roger Grillo, USA Hockey's rep in this area, about getting youth hockey involved.  We want to have a couple days.  One will be a "Learn Hockey" Day, where there's basically kids that have never played before and we'll have equipment and set up a free clinic.  And then also to get the local youth hockey organizations on board.  I think it's important and our guys have to go out and be ignitors and ignite the kids into wanting to be hockey players, wanting to be Providence College fans, and just setting a good example."

The coaching voids at both D1 schools in Providence have been filled and filled well.  Now, someone just has to step up and fill the media void.  I am getting that itch.  I need a job after all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nate Leaman Press Conference at Providence College

Jason Klump (former CHN writer) was nice enough to travel to Providence College yesterday to attend the press conference where Nate Leaman was introduced as the new men's ice hockey coach at Providence College.

He took this video of the entire press conference, and is in the midst of writing about the whole situation. I will post his thoughts soon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

College Hockey Video of the Week (5/2/11): USA! USA! USA!

I was going to post a different video, but after the news that broke last night I had to ride the patriotic wave.

So, here are some great USA Hockey videos. The majority of these players are/were college hockey players, so I'm still keeping with the college hockey theme.


And just for fun...